Evaluation of research

Quality and Renewal (Q&R17) – Research environment evaluation at Uppsala University

Q&R17 Follow-up

On 28 August 2018, the Vice-Chancellor approved a systematic follow-up of Quality and Renewal 2017 (2018/1546).

The University-wide follow-up will primarily be part of the regular annual planning and follow-up process.

In addition, the follow-up will include some form of external peer review during the period 2019–2022. Each disciplinary domain/faculty board will decide on the extent of, and arrangements for, external feedback. It could be organised at a single time for all departments in the disciplinary domain/faculty, or it could be left up to each department/equivalent to organise it at an appropriate time during the four-year period. The disciplinary domains/faculties set the level of ambition and the individual departments design the practical implementation.

The external review can be organised in the simplest possible form, or be more extensive if the disciplinary domain/faculty – or the department – considers this warranted. A possible and simple model is to invite one or two external peers (e.g. a Q&R17 panel chair, another panellist or another external colleague) to the department for a few hours’ discussion on how the department has addressed the issues raised in the Q&R17 evaluation. Prior to the visit, the external peers will receive the original self-evaluation and Q&R17 panel observations, as well as a brief summary of how the department has addressed the panel’s recommendations (one or two A4 pages). At the meeting, the external peers will have discussions with the department management and other relevant groups and individuals. The dialogue will revolve around how the department has analysed and addressed the recommendations given and other key development issues, whether they are results of Q&R17 or not.

The external peers will act as critical friends, report their impressions to the department management, and summarise their reflections in a brief statement (one or two A4 pages). As in Q&R17, the potential advice and recommendations of the external peers are to be regarded as guiding, not binding. Gathering reflections from external peers provides an outside perspective on the actions carried out at the University and the challenges associated with them.

As a result of the recommendations emanating from Q&R17, actions undertaken at University Management level will also be subject to external review. This will take place on two occasions, in May 2019 and in 2022. Disciplinary domains/faculties wishing, in whole or in part, to coordinate their external review with the corresponding review of University Management actions in May 2019 are welcome to do so. During the review days, a welcome reception and a Vice-Chancellor’s dinner will be organised to which all assessors present will be invited. The Vice-Chancellor will also report to the University Board annually on the actions undertaken.

In addition to the above, a conference/seminar series/equivalent will be organised for collegial exchange and support regarding work on the evaluation results from Q&R17 in 2018–2019. A questionnaire will also be sent to heads of departments, deans and vice-rectors to capture their experiences of Q&R17.

The Q&R17 report

Between February 2016 and October 2017 a research evaluation was carried out at Uppsala University. Q&R17 is the third research evaluation at Uppsala University. Q&R17 has been a major undertaking, aiming to strengthen research at Uppsala University through a broad analysis of the functioning of its various research environments, with particular focus on the preconditions and processes that underpin research quality and renewal.

The report, Quality and Renewal 2017 (Kvalitet och förnyelse 2017): Research Environment Evaluation at Uppsala University, presents the findings of the extensive evaluation material, including results from the survey, bibliometric analysis, panel reports authored by the individual panels, a thematic summary of the panel observations, and recommendations from the Q&R17 project management team. The report identifies several strengths and prospects for future growth and development of Uppsala’s current research. The panel reports include numerous testimonies of the perceived strength and excellence of research environments and research at Uppsala University. The report also identifies several areas both internal and external to the University that require attention if Uppsala is to maintain its current level of performance and indeed to improve upon it.

A number of areas have been identified where action is needed if Uppsala University is to take steps towards reaching its full potential. These relate to:

  • quality culture and control
  • leadership and strategic renewal
  • talent attraction and retention
  • international milieu
  • external collaboration and outreach
  • research-teaching linkages
  • organisation and infrastructure

Two actions emerge as especially critical and urgent, and should therefore be highlighted as university-wide priorities: the strengthening of the academic leadership’s capacity for strategic renewal, and the further development of career paths and career support. In addition to these, the report presents an overall list of recommendations that need to be thoroughly assessed for relevance and importance in each research environment, department, faculty and domain, as well as at the University level (including the administration). This will form the basis for a number of prioritised actions throughout the University aiming to further strengthen the international standing of Uppsala University.

About the Q&R17

In the Q&R17 evaluation process, more than 130 external panellists (most of them from outside Sweden) organised in 19 panels have visited Uppsala University aiming to assess strengths and weaknesses in the research environments and make recommendations.

As in earlier research evaluations, Q&R17 comprises self-evaluations, bibliometric analyses and external reviews. A new feature this time is an internet-based survey, in which around 3,700 active researchers at Uppsala University shared their perceptions of and opinions on their local research environments within the University. Together with bibliometric analyses, the survey results served as background material for departmental self-evaluations, which in turn were subjected to external peer review.

The two previous research evaluations, Q&R07 and Q&R11, primarily aimed to identify strong research activities and research initiatives with potential to develop into strong future areas of research, thereby aiding the university management in its continuous strategic decision-making process. In contrast to those two evaluations, Q&R17 has not resulted in any grading of the research carried out at Uppsala University, either in its totality or in its parts.

As a basis for a new research evaluation at Uppsala University, a survey of how research evaluations are perceived by those concerned was conducted. A report was (ʻProcesses for Improved Research Quality’) issued, to follow up the Quality and Renewal evaluations of 2007 and 2011 and presenting proposals for a possible new research evaluation.

For more information, contact Camilla Maandi.

Previous research evaluations - Quality and renewal, 2007 and 2011

In 2006/07, Uppsala University carried out its first self-initiated university-wide research evaluation: Quality and Renewal, 2007 (KoF07). In 2010/11, a second evaluation, Quality and Renewal, 2011 (KoF11), was implemented.

The purpose and aim of these evaluations were to:

  • survey the strengths of, and successful research groupings in, the University’s academic activities
  • facilitate renewal by identifying budding and potential new research specialities with great development potential
  • boost quality by means of documentation for focused support and strategic decisions
  • (for KoF11, to follow up how recommendations and conclusions from KoF07 were dealt with at various levels in the University).

The various parts of the evaluations consisted of self-evaluation, a bibliometric analysis and visits from international expert panels.

For more information, contact Camilla Maandi.